FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Former Wisconsin running back James White ran for two touchdowns and quarterback Tom Brady threw for another as the New England Patriots took care of Green Bay 31-17 to drop the Packers to 3-4-1 on the year.
Offense: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
The rookie wide receiver continued his string of big plays Sunday night, grabbing three balls for 101 yards. His first catch went for 51 on third-and-6 and set up a third-quarter touchdown. Then he made an acrobatic sideline grab to convert another third down and followed that by hauling in a 26-yard strike to set the Packers up deep in New England territory heading to the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, Aaron Jones fumbled on the next play and the Patriots scored 14 unanswered to get the win. Had they not done that, a lot of the talk afterwards would have been about Valdes-Scantling, who you could argue is the second-best wide receiver on the Packers roster right now.
He’s topped the 100-yard mark twice in the last three games and he’s clearly the top deep threat with three 40+ yard catches this season. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ confidence in him is growing and that should mean even more opportunities for the fifth-round pick.
Defense: LB Antonio Morrison
No one was great on the Packers defense, but Morrison had a couple of big plays, namely an 11-yard sack of Brady in the second half. He also jumped out physically, taking on blockers with power. The Patriots ended up running for 123 yards, but averaged just 4.0 per carry, and most of it came in the first half. After the break, they ran 16 times for just 42 yards. Morrison ended up with seven tackles — the second-most on the team — as Green Bay’s defense held the Patriots in check until the fourth quarter.
Special Teams: JK Scott
No one was sure if Scott would punt on Sunday, not even the Packers. His wife is due to deliver their first child this month and there was a chance he wouldn’t be available to play if she did. It’s why the Packers had a separate plane set aside for him and why they signed a second punter to the roster. But Scott punted and was solid, averaging 42 yards per kick, forcing four fair catches by returner Julian Edelman and no yards on the one return he did have.
What they said
“[It was a] good defensive play. Looking at it on replay, [he] punched the ball out. That’s my mistake. I’ll correct it and I’m happy to be here.
“We stalled after that. A big part of it was that fumble, which was my fault.”
— RB Aaron Jones on his fourth quarter fumble that turned the momentum in New England’s favor
“We need that game next week. We need it. We’re running out of games to keep saying, ‘we need that game.’ We definitely need it at this point. Guys have to step up. … We need that from everybody, both sides of the ball and special teams.”
— WR Davante Adams on what they need to do to turn around their season at 3-4-1
“We did a lot of really good things. We just have to do them more consistently. That’s kind of been our M.O. all year. We just have to be on top of things better.”
— DE Mike Daniels on where they are as a team eight games into the season
In Case You Missed It
— Quarterback Aaron Rodgers went without a knee brace for the first time since getting injured in Week 1 against Chicago.
— Bashaud Breeland was active for the first time since being signed in October. He started at cornerback and served as the kick returner. Breeland finished with a team-high eight tackles.
— With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix being traded to Washington last Tuesday, veteran Tramon Williams started at safety for Green Bay. A cornerback for much of his career, Williams credited with six tackles on the night.
—- Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee), cornerback Kevin King (hamstring) and safety Kentrell Brice suffered injuries in the first half and did not return.
Linebacker Blake Martinez left the field on a cart after an apparent ankle injury, but later returned to the game.
— Safety Jermaine Whitehead got caught open-hand slapping one of the Patriots’ players in the first half and was ejected.
Inside the Numbers
153 — That’s how many career touches Jones had gone without fumbling until coughing it up on the first play of the fourth quarter in Patriots’ territory.
39.6 — That was Rodgers’ passing rating in the fourth quarter on Sunday. Green Bay had just 22 yards in the final 15 minutes.
Green Bay (3-4-1) will host the Miami Dolphins (5-4) at Lambeau Field on Sunday at 3:25 p.m.